Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday


Happy birthday my love!  You are turning two today - two!  It sounds so big to me, especially as I look at your younger brothers.  And the time has just passed in a blur.  But, forever in my mind, always easy for me to picture, is your precious little face.  Exactly as you looked 2 years ago.

The day you were born was difficult to say the least, full of uncertainty and pain.  But, oh the joy.  I remember distinctly my heart doing this little flutter when I first laid eyes on you.  I still remember those eyelashes, those peaceful eyes, and of course the pouty lips.  We often think you would have looked so much like Dean.  I can picture your smile, your blonde curly hair bouncing as you run through heaven.  I am so sad I am not there to celebrate with you today, but I know you are having an absolute blast.  I can't wait to see what birthdays are like in heaven - what kind of wonderful gifts you receive, what you get to learn and experience, and how special it must be to get hugs and kisses from your Heavenly Father.  You are one lucky little girl!

Knowing that, knowing how vibrant and full your life is, makes things so much easier for us.  Though I would still chose things differently, I know with confidence your life was meant for eternity.  And that brings me immeasurable peace.  So, the four of us are celebrating your birthday as much as we can down here.  We're visiting the last happy place you went - Blowing Rock.  We absolutely love it and are glad we are not house bound this year.  We have purple balloons (of course) to send up to you.  Mommy made you the most delicious strawberry cupcakes (with super yummy buttercream frosting, from scratch!).  Your brothers even made you cards and did the coloring all by themselves.  They're very special, and we'll put them in your memory box for safe keeping.  We'll watch the videos of you dancing away tonight.  And though it always makes us cry, it reminds us of how happy you were.  It reminds us you have only known love and there was no suffering in your life.

We are so incredibly proud to be your parents, to know how much your life has touched others.  We are so thankful God is using you and your precious time here on earth to change others, to change us most of all.  We love you so very much, Reagan.  So much.  Not a day goes by that we don't miss you, and we can't wait to see you again!

Happy second birthday, Rea Rea!!  Mommy and Daddy love you always!

Thursday, October 30, 2014


The anticipation of Reagan's birthday was so much harder last year than her actual birthday.  I am praying that is the case again this year.  Two years ago today I was relatively carefree in my pregnancy.  I went about my work day normally and stopped in for a check-up on my way home.  Two years ago today I saw the image that is still burned in my mind, forever in my mind.  Reagan's empty chest.  The place where, just the week before, her heart had been fluttering away.  The sense of disbelief, shock, horror.  And the overwhelming, crushing guilt.  That I had done something wrong, missed something I should have picked up on.  A mother should know her child, should know if something was wrong.  I didn't have a clue.  How could I be that out of touch?  How could I have missed something so profound?

October 30, for me, is much harder of a day.  This is the anniversary of all things awful, of the pain and emptiness.  Today marks 2 years since my world forever changed.  Today, immersing myself in planning for Reagan's Garden, getting ready for her birthday, packing for our trip, well, it's not enough.  I can't get that image out of my mind, can't wrap my head around it all.  Two years later, I still don't have answers to my why questions.  I still don't understand why some have it so easy and others don't, why some children die and others don't.  So, I'm going back to the one place I can find rest: Christ.  I am leaning heavily on Him today to carry me through, to remind me constantly that Reagan is loved and cared for.  That He is giving her all the hugs and kisses she needs until I can join her.  I'm back outside with my tea, Reagan's newly planted garden, basking in the warm of the early morning sun, and reading about heaven.  Trying again to grasp all my baby girl is doing and learning and loving. Trying not to let myself break again that she is doing all that without me, because I will have all of eternity to catch up.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pre-isolation outings

So, we've been in lock down for 3 weeks, 3 weeks that I've been saying to myself "I really need to put up the pictures of all the things we did in September."  And then, as any mom knows, life gets away from you.  So here I am, waiting for about 50 people to call me back for things dealing with Reagan's Garden, not feeling like doing the cleaning that so desperately needs to be done, and I thought...why not now?

We ended our summer with some great trips.  Over Labor Day, we visited with dear friends from FL and all vacationed together with our 9 kids.  Yeah, 9 kids, 3 sets of twins.  We had a few hours of "vacation" each day, typically everything after 7:30.  But seriously, it was a wonderful time to catch up, to ask the hard questions, and to laugh.  It was so uplifting to see kids a year or two older than our boys doing things like listening and actually understanding, laughing and playing together.  Gives me so much to look forward to!

We also visited the lake, taking the boys out on the boat and riding around, which they really seemed to enjoy.  The boat is a whole new thing to explore.  And it has buttons and snaps, which seem to keep these boys busy for hours.  We all four went tubing.  I can't really say it was an enjoyable experience...there was much screaming and whining.  But those life jackets did look super uncomfortable, so I can't say I blame them.  

And our last trip of September was back for a Clemson game.  I tried to teach the boys Go Tigers! for their first such luck.  They'll have it down by next year though.  They absolutely loved tailgating - exploring the great outdoors, eating some dirt, playing with rocks and leaves.  What more could a little boy ask for??  

It was a little less relaxing than our typical tailgates, constantly watching to make sure Warren and Dean didn't get around any of the kids with colds, but it was so wonderful to see old friends again.  So much has changed in the past two years with the dynamics of our group!

Family Photo - Solid Orange

Poor Wyatt, such a trooper!  Boys first experience "horseback" riding

And of course, on our way home, we took the boys apple picking.  They did a great job hanging out in their strollers, getting down to pick a few apples, and munching on them as we headed back up.  Warren drank something for the first time in over 2 months, an apple cider slushie.  He loved it!  And proved to us all that it is not the mechanics of drinking that is the problem, it's his strong stubborn will!  


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15

Today is national Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  Two years ago, it was simply October 15.  I never knew there was such a day to remember babies gone too soon.  I would have thought most people wouldn't either.  But here's the thing, 1 in 4 pregnancies don't make it.  ONE in FOUR.  That is such a huge number that I think most of us have been touched in some way or another by loss.  Often these are early miscarriages, which for some reason most people don't talk about.  Maybe it's easier to hide the pain?  Maybe it's awkward to mention the miscarriage before you've told anyone about the pregnancy.  Our whole world knew we were doing IVF beforehand and I had countless people messaging me to find out if we were pregnant before we even knew ourselves so I never got to keep pregnancy a secret.  (Though I realize we are not at all the norm!)  For all our friends who have gone through miscarriage, I am so sorry.  I'm sorry you lost a child too.  I'm heartbroken you did not get to fulfill the dreams you had for your child from the moment you learned of his/her existence.  And I'm sorry you did not get an opportunity to hold them.  I would have once thought that would have been easier, to lose a child earlier in the pregnancy.  I now know that it is just different.

  Today, on October 15, we remember Reagan and our time with her, those precious hours we got to spend holding her.  We are honoring her memory today by launching Reagan's Garden to help provide support to other families who have experienced similar loss.  We'll be participating in the balloon release tonight, along with thousands of others across the country.  What a beautiful way to remember those we have lost.  We each will get a purple balloon and let it fly.  But this year, we'll also release a blue balloon for Reagan's twin and her cousin, who are playing in heaven with her now.  Their lives were so incredibly brief, but no less significant.  They don't get a birthday to celebrate.  We have no memories to recall.  But today, we honor them too.

The national balloon release occurs at 7PM, no matter your time zone.  This helps to create a continuous wave of balloons released across the country.  However, because it's nearly dark here at that time and our boys are typically in bed, we'll be releasing at 6PM.  We'd love for any and all to join us!  If you do, please send me and email or post the picture to Reagan's Garden FB page.  I'd love to put a collection together!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Reagan's Garden

So many people after Reagan was born asked us how they could help.  What could they do?  For the past two years, my answer has always been "nothing."  There was no tangible way of helping us, of honoring Reagan. Our hearts ached for other families going through the same loss, parents not able to bring their children home, but we had no way of helping them either.  We've prayed about it, and God has answered our prayers.  And now we'd like to ask you for your physically give of your time, resources, and talents.

Andrew and I have talked about how we can support families experiencing infant loss and increase awareness of stillbirth and prematurity once we were thrust into both of these situations.  We felt extremely isolated and confused in both situations in two very different ways.  Since leaving the NICU, we have learned of several support options available to families during their NICU stay and a few other amazing projects being launched now.  However, infant loss support is still sorely lacking.  After talking with several people and spending much time in prayer, we are moving forward with the launch of Reagan's Garden.  We are have been so blessed by Reagan's short life and how God has used that to mold and shape us into different people.  We are excited to see where God will take this and our desire to support families in Charlotte experiencing infant loss.  The "about us" appears below, but check out our website here!  Please consider donating to support the families in our region, offering artistic talents to help us make cards, or helping us assemble boxes to deliver to women who lose babies in the NICU.

When a woman delivers a healthy child, she receives flowers and balloons.  Ribbons announcing name and weight are placed on the door.  Balloons are hung on the mailbox.  And a never ending, revolving door of visitors arrive bringing food, flowers, and congratulations.  But when your child is born not breathing, when your child will only live a few minutes to a few hours, there is silence.  No one knows how to respond, whether to call or not, what to say.  It is for this very reason we started Reagan’s Garden.

Reagan’s Garden is a non-profit fund through Novant Health Foundaition that provides tangible support to families in the Charlotte, NC region who will not be bringing their child home.  The child may be born not breathing, may pass away during or immediately after delivery, or may pass away in the NICU.  Each family is sent beautiful flowers and a handmade card.  It’s not much, it does not take away their grief, but it provides encouragement and a beautiful reminder that their baby is just that…their child.  Our daughter, Reagan Catherine, was stillborn in October 2012.  It was the hardest and most difficult thing we ever experienced, a pain no one understands unless they have been there too.  And yet, holding your child, you are still filled with a love, you still want to celebrate their life, however brief.  Reagan’s Garden hopes to encourage parents in labor and recovery to do just that, to take in every second you have with your child.  It is our mission to ensure each mother, no matter their circumstances or support network, receives a bouquet and card for their hospital room, a tiny but tangible gift to remind them their child matters and should be celebrated.

Infants born prematurely or with complications face a potentially extensive NICU time.  For us, this ended after 3 months with 2 baby boys at home.  Not everyone has experience and not everyone will be bringing their child home.  Reagan’s Garden also seeks to send these families flowers and a decorated box providing encouragement and Biblical hope.

Infant loss is devastating, but we were not made to go through this journey alone. Reagan’s Garden hopes to hold regular support dinners in Charlotte to unite parents with a network of people to talk with.  These informal gatherings will provide a safe place for parents to talk about their children with those who have walked a similar journey, celebrating the moments we had with our children, and grieving all we will miss.  Our goal is that no one would feel alone or isolated after loss.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Ugh.  It's October 1.  Sigh.  I don't even know where to begin as I think about all this month holds for us.

It's the official start to isolation, year 2.  No indoor activities.  No being around other children, having other children in our home.  Flu shots and immunizations all around.  No more running out to the store to pick up some groceries, no trips to Target.  On the positive, no more awkward comments..."Are those twins?" "You're hands must be full!" "Are they natural?" "Really? They're 15 months? But they're so small."  The little old ladies at Publix always light up when they see the boys and like to tell me about raising their own children.  But most people just say the most ridiculous things.

I'm not sure what to expect this flu season.  Last year, I wouldn't have gone anywhere even if I could.  Where would I take 2 infants?  Infants who screamed constantly, nursed for nearly an hour each session, Warren with his colic/reflux.  Nope, no way was I going anywhere.  But this year, this year they are more self sufficient.  They want to explore, love going to new places.  They no longer nurse during the day, so I'm not restricted by that for the first time in over a year.  It's going to be a challenge.  Finding the right activities, exposing them to new things and learning opportunities while keeping them away from any risk of illness.  Who knows, it may be easier than I'm anticipating.  I may find an outlet some other way since their isolation is essentially my own as well.  Too bad PT doesn't have a work from home option!

And then, hitting me like a ton of bricks today, is Reagan's birthday at the end of the month.  I'd love to spend the day up in the mountains, breathing in the crisp air, walking the trails we walked together as a family 2 years ago.  But...isolation.  Boys can't go indoors, we couldn't stay in a hotel.  And being away from them on her birthday doesn't make it better either, so we're not going to leave them home with family while we take the time to grieve.  Maybe we'll find a way to do it, rent a house that hasn't had anyone in it for the week before to limit their exposure.  Because the last thing I want is to be home on the night of Halloween, watching all the Disney princess costumes parade around the street, hearing the little girls giggling, longing for more moments we won't ever get to experience with our daughter.